I’m sitting on the front porch watching the birds and the bugs, admiring my flowers and feeling strong gusts of wind blow everything that’s movable and some things that are not so movable. Like my patio chair! I love a rushing wind blowing over me and, always, it reminds me of Pentecost.
Sunday is my favorite Sunday in the church year — Pentecost Sunday! I hold it as my favorite because I long for Spirit wind in my life — to move me, change me, fill me, refresh me and set me free. Spirit fills me with passion and sets me on a journey, a mission really, to bring Spirit to those who most need new hope. On the Sunday of Pentecost, I feel as if the wind is ready to blow!
When the day of Pentecost had come,
they were all together in one place.
And suddenly from heaven there came a sound
like the rush of a violent wind,
and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.
Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them,
and a tongue rested on each of them.
All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit
and began to speak in other languages,
as the Spirit gave them ability.
This is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:
”In the last days it will be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh,;
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams.
Even upon my slaves, both men and women,
in those days I will pour out my Spirit;
and they shall prophesy.”
Acts 2:1-4, 16-18
It must have been a shocking surprise, even stunning in its drama. It is no wonder that of all the church seasons, Pentecost has arguably inspired the most stunning art. Artists depict wind, fire, people receiving tongues of fire and all manner of colorful Spirit movement. Pentecost art is filled with movement, unpredictable and free!
No doubt, the artists who create art for the season of Pentecost offer us images of color, vibrancy, movement and freedom. I suppose that these qualities are the ones we want in our own lives, especially movement and freedom. The Spirit Wind that blows through my life and yours brings us that movement and freedom, almost as if Spirit removes the bonds that keep us still and stagnant. Instead “we live and move and have our being”* in a God who brings new life when we most need it.
And as for Pentecostal fire, well, we need that, too. It is a Refiner’s fire, a holy fire with the power to burn away everything that holds us back and then to put the “fire” of passion in our souls that inspires us to live out the calling and mission of our lives.
The wonderful news of Pentecost is that we do not have to rely on our own limited power. The great news of all Pentecost is the promise we hear in our souls, “The wind is ready to blow!” This is the hour for us to be permeated with the courage to run with Pentecostal winds and burn with Pentecostal fire.
God’s Spirit filling means very little to us in the midst of easy days, but in times life these, Spirit within us means everything. In these days of pandemic, police violence, mass shootings, violence in families, hungry children, adults desperate to find work, racial conflict, people marginalized and oppressed, we need to hold on to the promise of holy wind and fire.
As always, we are left with questions:
In the midst of this kind of world, what can we possibly do?
In the midst of my weakness, can I feel the Spirit-wind?
In the midst of grief and loss, can I feel the Spirit-wind?
In the midst of illness and pain, can I feel the Spirit-wind?
The answer is “YES!”
Pentecost can come upon us in the darkest of times, in the most impossible of circumstances . . . when only the wind and the fire of God’s Spirit could begin to pull off the miracle of new life. The Prophet Haggai would say to us: “Take courage! For I am with you. My Spirit abides among you.”
And so I proclaim to us this day, that if we are willing to be moved and changed by Spirit wind and fire, God’s Spirit is able to empower us. God’s Spirit is able to move us from limitedness into new life, to give us courage, to give our tired feet new strength to keep moving forward instead of giving up.
If we are willing, God’s Spirit wind is able to breathe life into us. And when our days become dreary with low-hovering clouds and our nights become darker than a thousand midnights, I hope we will remember . . .
That the Spirit of Pentecost will ignite us with a fiery passion that disturbs our complacency.
That the Spirit of Pentecost longs to baptize us again and again and again with Spirit-fire and move us with Spirit-wind.
That the Spirit of Pentecost is able to re-kindle within us the courage to proclaim the Gospel of liberation to the ends of the earth.
Take courage! The wind is ready to blow!